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Stevens says lifting of NHS pay cap will require more Treasury investment

Simon Stevens has challenged the Treasury to commit extra funding for the NHS and staff-pay in Westminster today, ahead of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 22 November.

Speaking in front of the Commons Health Committee today, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told MPs that it was ‘no secret’ that without additional funding the NHS would struggle ‘to do all that is asked of it’.

Mr Stevens said: ‘Looking forward, it’s no secret – and I’m not saying anything I haven’t previously said – the budget position and the currently pencilled in funding for the NHS next year and the year after looks extremely challenging.

‘If not amended I think it’s going to be very hard for the NHS to do all that is asked of it over the course of the next year and the year beyond.’

He said it was ‘welcome news’ that the Government was now making statements suggesting it recognises that.

Pulse revealed today that the Government is likely to make a big announcement on GP indemnity at the RCGP Annual Conference this week, and Mr Stevens seemed to lend more weight to this.

He said: ‘I think we’re now doing a lot [to make general practice attractive]… there are practical reasons for optimism.

‘But the flipside is there are real concerns about the early retirement rate, driven by pressures on practices, concerns about indemnity, and changes to pensions. The secretary of state will be talking to the RCGP later this week and I hope we’ll be in a position to set out some further actions that GPs will welcome.’

His comments came after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the end of the public sector pay cap in the Commons today, saying ‘the pay cap, has been scrapped’ and he now has ‘flexibility’ to award above-inflation rises.

But this was caveated by the fact that to be awarded pay rises above the 1% cap, mandated by successive governments’, professions would have to show ‘productivity improvements’.

Mr Hunt said: ‘Without pay restrain we wouldn’t have 11,000 more doctors in the NHS, 11,000 more nurses in our wards.

‘You will be aware that we recognise it wasn’t sustainable to carry on with the 1% going forward, that’s why next year we’ve been given the leeway to have more flexible negotiations.

He added: ‘I can give good news, the pay cap has been scrapped.’